Lights Out For Darker Skies

British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?

Every once in awhile a record comes along that is so good, it causes me physical pain. And by once in awhile, I am of course referring to never.

However, the latest British Sea Power took me aback due to the sheer relentless brilliance of it all, and the fact that I was not expecting this from their third effort. Their debut LP The Rise and Fall of British Sea Power was an amazingly confident debut, with the band sounding more like a bunch of wizened ex-punks who had just discovered melody than the group of fresh faced lads that they were. Their second album Open Season suffered from a conspicuous absence of rock, instead offering an expansion of their more “pastoral” side. Upon listening to it for the first time, I was heard to exclaim, “what is this Coldplay crap?” before tossing it across the room.

That’s why I was intrigued when I heard that BSP had a new release called Do You Like Rock Music? The fact that they were asking my opinion at all was intriguing; but it seemed like more of a challenge than a question, as if they knew the answer all along and were just baiting me so they could respond.

And respond they did. DYLRM? (pardon the acronym) is filled with some of the best rock music I’ve heard in a long time. With every other new “indie” band being touted as the next heir to British post punk royalty (the mighty influence of Joy Division, Wire, Gang of Four, etc.) it’s refreshing to hear a band that actually marks their own terrain. This is not some tossed off disco punk fashion spread; this is heartfelt music with great lyrics, kickass guitar solos, and sweeping choruses (or chorii as I like to call ’em).

After lulling us in with the brief intro piece “All In It,” the band kicks into what will probably end up being the greatest rock anthem of the year, “Lights out For Darker Skies.” With a cut and paste arrangement that would make most progressive rock bands blush, it took me a few listens to figure out if this was one song or six. It most certainly takes the listener on a journey, one which ends with an insanely killer guitar riff playing against a descending chord progression – the type of heroics that are rarely attempted outside of metal, and that rarely work in any context.

After that it’s one brisk stroke of genius after the next. “No Lucifer” and “Waving Flags” are melodic and emotional rushes of sonic bliss that almost completely erase the memory of every other indie band from the past five years. Things slow down a bit with “Canvey Island,” allowing the listener to catch their breath and prepare for the ride to continue, which it does in superb form with “Down on the Ground” and “A Trip Out.”

Despite my predilection for rock music that actually rocks, I’m not opposed to the mellow shit. The problem with it is that if you’re going to waste my time with a ballad, it better be a damn good one. Once again, BSP proves that they are not fucking around by placing the bewitching lullaby of “No Need to Cry” towards the end of the album. This is a great song, and it reminded me that the ballads on the first album were really great too, and I should probably figure out where I threw their second album so I can reevaluate it.

Comparisons: Think Radiohead if they got beat up by The Wedding Present, or The Arcade Fire if they had a pair of balls between the ten of ’em.

Waving Flags

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2 Responses to “Lights Out For Darker Skies”

  1. Why, yes, I do like rock music! This is one of my favorite albums of 2008 as well.

  2. You have excellent taste, my friend.

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